There’s just something inherently depressing about a hot meal that’s gone cold, that leaves you feeling all the yumminess evaporated as the temperature fell. Tiny Theatre Company’s all female creative team, comprised of Olivia May Roebuck, Alexandra Brailsford and Isabelle Stokes bring their short play Cold Chips to Theatre N16, but rather than being a tepid disappointment, it’s sparkling wit and cosy humour won’t fail to warm your heart.
The two-hander sees friends Ella and Ryan meet up periodically on a park bench. With a bag of chips (presumably cold) nestled on their laps, they share the turmoil of millennial life. Ella is sensible, having learned the ways of the world from her mother Jane, where Ryan coasts from one pay day loan to the next, if only he could hold down a job long enough for pay day to actually come. But Jane played a big part in his life too, giving the characters more of a sibling type relationship.
There are asides from the park bench, Ryan applying for jobs or describing his father in his natural habitat, a convincing David Attenborough impression included, or Ella packing up the house now that her tenancy has expired, dreaming of a new life in a bigger city. The variety of settings gives depth to the already accomplished writing, and you feel very quickly that you’ve gotten to know these characters well.
Olivia May Roebuck, playing Ella, brings a northern warmth of soul to her character. Describing the ways in which she stalks ex boyfriends is delivered with perfect comic timing, and her monologue in the final minutes is truly moving. Roebuck is perfectly paired with Hippolyte Poirier as Ryan, his endearing performance warming the audience to his character and willing him on to succeed.
While the final twist in the story comes as no great surprise, it still delivers a gut punch of emotion, switching the plays direction and giving the audience something to reflect on. The build up to this climax, along with a determination to show a more holistic view of the characters beyond this singular event demonstrates the profoundness within the writing in Cold Chips. It also manages to avoid being cliché by concentrating on the characters lifelong friendship as opposed to any hint of romanticism.
With a stellar soundtrack accompanying the piece, Cold Chips is a charming look at friendship, which has been compassionately written and lovingly performed. It teaches us that when you have a special bond of friendship to share with someone, it doesn’t matter how cold the chips are, as long as you are eating them together.